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Goodbye To All That, And A Toast To Absent Friends

In the closing minutes of 2013 it’s time to take a very brief look back and it’s impossible to avoid the conclusion that this has been a simply terrible year.

We’ve grown accustomed to iron clad safety in our sport and the deaths of Allan Simonsen and Sean Edwards were hammer blows to every member of the close knit sportscar racing community.

We haven’t forgotten either the passing of Wolf Silvester during a VLN race on the same day as Allan Simonsen’s accident, nor the tragic death of Andrea Mame at Paul Ricard in the Lamborghini Super Trofeo race just a week later.

Much loved friends in the paddock passed on too as early in the year we lost a good friend of DSC, Jack Cunnigham, later in the year RML’s Vince “Bobble” Mitchell, succumbed to illness and just last week we lost Rollcentre Racing and Team LNT legend Michael “Cushty” Tallantire too.

A long-time pressroom colleague passed on too this year, Tim Crete, and so too did racer Philippe Favre.

They’ll all be missed, more than they know, and, as has been said many times this year, God now has one hell of a race team.

That’s a long roll call, too long. May we never, ever have another year like it.

Before we go any further, racing folk everywhere will be saying quiet words in support of Michael Schumacher tonight – We’ll join them in that and hope for more good news soon.

Allan McNish and Dario Franchitti decided to hang up their helmets for very different reasons this year – Both though finish their careers in the driving seat not just with huge amounts of silverware, but also with massive respect from their peers, and from millions of fans worldwide. We wish both of them well, they will, undoubtedly be around racing for many, many years to come.

It’s farewell too to the FIA GT Series, and to the Brazilian GT3 Championship too – the former will be redubbed to reflect backing from Blancpain, the latter a reminder that the economy out there is still tricky.

Farewell too of course to the American Le Mans Series and to Grand-Am too as the new for 2014 USCC takes shape – We wish them well and our best wishes too to those who were involved in both of the former Series and are now looking for another berth in the sport or beyond.

All of that means that LMP1 is now an FIA WEC only formula, and that means the end, for now at least of Lola as a force in the top prototype class in global sportscar racing, new chassis sales for 2014 though mean that we’ll still see the famous name gracing cars in top racing for a while yet.

It was a year too of anniversaries, Aston Martin’s centenary featured highs and lows like few others but the spirit was there for all to see – AMR’s tenth anniversary in 2014 might just allow the Banbury Boys to fill in a few gaps in the trophy cabinet!

Oreca celebrated their 40th anniversary with success on track for their customer cars, announcements of new cars to come in CN/ LMP3 and LMP2, and a collaboration with Rebellion that will see the famous French company design and build their very first car from the ground up, the Rebellion R1 is WEC bound in 2014.

Dr Wolfgang Ullrich celebrated 20 years at the helm of Audi Sport, few in the sport, at any level, have achieved more, and fewer still with such class.

Porsche celebrated 50 years of the Porsche 911 with a Le Mans win, and commitment to factory efforts both in North America and globally in 2014, the Legend Lives On!

And the biggest race in the world celebrated its 90th anniversary, the Le Mans 24 hours has evolved and adapted, has seldom been more relevant to the automotive realities of the world, and is set to respond to the tragedy of 2013’s race with a sea change in the safety management regime on one of the world’s greatest true road courses.

It’s the moment too to thank all of our contributors, those who have been with us from the start, and a new group that joined us this year as the racing calendar continues to expand! Thanks to the best team in sportscar racing reporting.

Thanks too to our partners and backers in 2013, to Nissan, Dunlop, Aston Martin Racing, to Radio Le Mans, Motors TV, The Smoking Dog and Vanessa, to Andy Blackmore and to Travel Destinations and Cambridge Business Travel – All come very highly recommended.

We’ll recognise the past year’s achievements in rather more detail early in the New Year but for now, as you raise a glass to toast 2014 join us in taking a moment to remember, more than we have had to do in many, many years, Absent Friends

Happy New Year everyone

From Graham, Dave and all of us at Dailysportscar